The JPRD East 8U Softball All Star Team’s Road to the World Series

JPRD Eastbank 8U Softball All Star Team’s Road to the World Series

My daughter Cynthia has played many sports through Pontiff Playground over the past 4 years including t-ball, soccer, volleyball, flag football, track, and now softball. We are a huge fan of playground sports in our house and strongly encourage them. In fact, fall registration for JPRD sports is open now. Last year when the 8U Babe Ruth JPRD East Softball team won State and Regionals, which then qualified them to go to the 2021 Babe Ruth World Series in Florida, Cynthia began leaning more towards softball! She followed these girls through the World Series where they finished on top as THE CHAMPIONS (their story was also featured on New Orleans Mom – it’s impressive!). The 2021 8U All Star Softball team came home and celebrated in many ways, including meeting with the Governor, being on the news, riding in a parade, etc. Cynthia came to me and said enthusiastically, “I want to be on that team next year!”  

This summer Cynthia (#11) was part of the Pontiff playground softball league, along with JPRD All Star teammates Finely Coleman (#4), Amelia Donelon (#10), Lucy Breaux (#3) and Eloise Kracjer (#6). In addition to playing at their “home playground” of Pontiff, these girls also joined the JPRD Eastbank Intramural League, which plays out of Harahan Playground. This intramural league consisted of girls from all JPRD Playgrounds on the Eastbank including Delta, Girard, Miley, Little Farms, Pontiff and Lakeshore. From this League, JPRD selected 15 girls to be a part of the JPRD Eastbank All-Star Team.

Being selected to the team was not an easy task for these girls. There were many qualities and skills the coaches were looking for, including the ability to field the ball, bat, catch behind the plate and run the bases effectively. Of course, also taken into consideration was a player’s understanding of the rules of the game, attitude on and off the field, discipline, determination, sportsmanship and ability to make the majority of practices and games. We had shared this with Cynthia in advance, that she was consistently being watch by many adults during games, practices and in the stands watching other teams. She had a pretty good idea of what they were looking for and really focused her abilities to show JPRD that she has what it takes.  

On June 5, 2022 we found out that Cynthia officially made the JPRD Eastbank 8U All-Star team. That day quickly shifted gears not only for Cynthia but for our entire family. We had to make several changes in our summer plans to accommodate her to be available for daily practices. This team only had 3 short weeks to get to know each other, become one cohesive team, assign positions, get gear, etc. The Louisiana State tournament was the weekend of June 24-26 in Ponchatoula, LA where they went undefeated taking home the title of STATE CHAMPIONS. This was less than three weeks after the team itself was announced, which is pretty exciting! As a result of being the State Champs, the next stop for these girls is the World Series scheduled July 27 – August 5 in Treasure Coast, Florida.

These girls have been practicing daily leading up to when they leave on July 26. They certainly have put in what it takes to be the Champions; now let’s see if they can show that determination on the fields in Treasure Coast, FL.

When Cynthia was asked what is her most proud moment of the summer and why, she immediately said, “making the JPRD All-Star Team. I know it was hard work and I got myself on the team.”  She also shared that “making it to the World Series by winning the State Tournament and being selected to be the team’s catcher” is what she’s most proud of now that she’s part of the team. As a parent you often wonder if the time, dedication, resources – and sacrifice – are worth it. I wondered what made my daughter want to be part of something so rigorous; why this sport and why this team. She told me that “being able to travel and play in tournaments, a chance to make it to the World Series, meeting new friends and having fun” is all part of what she loves. That makes it all worthwhile as a mom, even if the summer has been beyond crazy as a result.

Cynthia loves everything about softball, whether it’s playing catcher, batting or fielding. She genuinely enjoys being part of a team, a part of something bigger than herself. This summer she has even acquired a nickname from her team, “Chatter Box,” which is appropriate since she chatters constantly on AND off the fields. In fact, she shared that she’s proud to be the JPRD East All Star team catcher specifically because she can … “talk chatter to the batters.”

What’s even more amazing is that these girls can recognize what it takes to win and make it as far as the World Series. Cynthia knows that the team’s hard work at practice, their coaches believing in them, winning the State Tournament and coming together as one team has made this all possible.

Most of all, these girls are having the time of their lives this summer. The memories they’ve made and the fun they’ve had will last a lifetime. I’d be remiss not to mention as well that the coaches are the reason our girls get this experience. The girls put in the work, but so do the coaches. Their time, talent, energy, dedication, knowledge and love for the game are the reason any of this is possible. A huge thank you to the coaches for making this possible for young athletes in Jefferson Parish; without y’all, parents don’t get to experience the joy that is youth sports.

Please wish these girls luck in Florida; they can hear you cheering from Louisiana!

JPRD Eastbank 8U Softball All-Star Team

Kingsley Acosta (#1)

Sloan Blackburn (#2)

Lucy Breaux (#3)

Finley Coleman (#4)

Makinleigh Klein (#5)

Eloise Krajcer (#6)

Mila Ridley (#7)

Sophie Ciolino (#8)

Riley Carr (#9)

Amelia Donelon (#10)

Cynthia Gros (#11)

Lily Hotstream (#12)

Morgan Manale (#14)

Stella Fanelli (#26)

Ava Oliver’s (#31)


Head Coach – Monique Duvernay

Assistant Coaches – Dina Gunckel, Maddie Lacoste, Heather Penny 



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